chip (away) at (something)

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chip (away) at (something)

1. Literally, to break off fragments of something. We won't be able to move this huge rock until we chip at it and make it smaller.
2. By extension, to complete small, incremental portions of a task. I knew I wouldn't be able to write 50 pages in one night, so I've been chipping away at this paper for a few weeks.
See also: chip
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

chip (away) at something

to break off tiny pieces of something little by little. The mason chipped away at the bricks. He chipped at the block of marble gently.
See also: chip
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in periodicals archive ?
But Peugeot driver Gronholm chipped away at the lead and can now challenge for victory.
Finally, another terrier was sent down the hole to find Nugget, as searchers chipped away at a huge rock trapping him.
London's Keith Jackman manfully chipped away at Roscommon's ever increasing lead with six frees, but Roscommon's six starting forwards, who all scored points from play looked in fine form ahead of their Connacht semi-final clash with Leitrim.